Multifamily lender Walker & Dunlop (WD) posted a first-quarter profit of $6.6 million, or 31 cents a share, outperforming analyst expectations of earnings in the range of 28 cents a share. The firm, which provides financial services to the commercial real estate sector, said on a pro forma basis to account for a new tax status, first-quarter earnings remained essentially flat with a year earlier. "Walker & Dunlop's financial results for the first quarter of 2011 were extremely strong, producing $10.9 million in pretax earnings, the highest first-quarter pretax earnings in the company's history," said Chairman and Chief Executive Willy Walker. Comparatively, when the firm had different tax obligations in the year-ago first quarter, Walker & Dunlop posted a profit of $10.7 million, or 73 cents a share. Revenue for the three months ended March 31 fell to $29 million from $32.9 million, as loan origination volumes shifted downward. During the quarter, Walker & Dunlop recorded $507 million in new loan originations. That compares to a new loan origination volume of $986 million in a year earlier — a 49% drop in volume. In addition, the firm noted 60-day delinquencies on loans are down to 0.48% of its portfolio from 0.85% in December. "First quarter 2010 originations were very high due to three large portfolios of loans being originated that quarter," Walker & Dunlop said.  "For comparison purposes, the company originated $407 million of loans in the first quarter of 2009." The firm said it's on target to originate $750 million to $1.25 billion in new loans during the second quarter and a total of $3.5 billion to $4.25 billion of commercial loans in 2011. () Walker & Dunlop recently entered into a strategic partnership with commercial real estate financier Cushman & Wakefield that the firms expect to result in about $3 billion of multifamily property sales in 2011. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.